Kirsten Gillibrand: The 7 Issues Guide

Today I bring you the 7th installment of TokyoSand’s excellent series, The 7 Issues Guide, helping us get to know a bit about the platforms of the democratic candidates running for the office of president next year. Kirsten Gillibrand is on deck today, and she is one that I know very little about. Thank you, TokyoSand, and your diligent volunteers, for helping us get to know Ms. Gillibrand!

Political⚡Charge

gillibrand

The Democrats have a big field of candidates running for President in 2020. To briefly use a sports analogy, I see our candidates as the starting players on the Blue team, each bringing their own unique strengths to the table in a bid to take our country in a very different direction than the one we’re on today.

But as we well know from 2016, the media (and especially social media) gets fixated on non-substantial issues that take up all the oxygen. Plus, they don’t give the candidates the same treatment or the same amount of airtime.

In order to help voters get to know the Democratic candidates, I’ve enlisted the help of a team of terrific volunteers who have helped gather quotes and information about what the candidates have said or done in regards to the 7 issues that midterm voters identified as the most important. I hope…

View original post 1,859 more words

It’s Snarky Snippet Time!!!

It seems about time for some snarky snippets, don’t you think?


Rules were made to be … rescinded?

If you don’t like a rule, you can just ignore it.  If that doesn’t work, you can just re-write the rule.  At least, if you are Donald Trump, that seems to be the way it works.  I’m reasonably certain that it would not work that way for most of us.

Case in point …

Back in 2016, President Obama signed an executive order, part of which mandated an annual accounting of how many civilians have died in military and CIA strikes.  The goal was to increase transparency in an effort to limit the number of civilian deaths as a result of drone strikes in countries like Yemen, Somalia, and Pakistan.  The deadline for that annual accounting by U.S. intelligence officials passed last week with no report issued.  And so, Trump merely rescinded that part of the executive order with an executive order of his own.  As I said at the beginning, if you don’t like the rule, or miss the deadline, just get rid of the rule!

The number of drone strikes abroad has dramatically increased since Trump took office.  For example, during President Obama’s entire eight years in office, 154 strikes were carried out in the war-torn country of Yemen.  Comparatively, during Trump’s two years, 176 have been conducted.  Extrapolating the data, more than 4.5 times as many per year under Trump.  And yet, he has decided it is not important for that data to be made public.  I beg to differ.


Freedom???

I have frequently compared the Trump administration to George Orwell’s book, 1984, and with good reason.  One of those reasons is what Orwell dubbed ‘newspeak’, and what the Trump administration has termed, ‘alternative facts’.  Either term works.  It is the means Trump & Co. use to justify the unjustifiable.  I have also said that somebody needs to write an “Alternative Facts Dictionary”, for it becomes confusing to those of us who grew up with Merriam-Webster as our guide.  Here’s a new one for you:  Freedom = deprivation of rights.  That’s funny, for I thought it was the opposite.

Specifically, ‘religious freedom’ has become a buzzword for “anything the Christians don’t like is bad and will not be tolerated”.  But would somebody please explain to me what problem Christians have with LGBT people?  Mind you, before somebody takes umbrage, I am not referring to all Christians, but the group of them that agree with Mr. Jack Phillips, the Colorado baker who refused to bake a cake for a gay couple and ended up costing much money and causing much angst as a result of his homophobia.  Though not Christian myself, I have many friends who are Christians, but who are not homophobes. In fact, I have a number of friends who are both gay and Christian.  But then there are those others …

Nebraska State Senator Patty Pansing Brooks introduced LB 627 in January this year, a bill that would have updated all relevant state statutes to prohibit employment discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.  No-brainer, right?  But did you know there are more than two dozen states that have no LGBT nondiscrimination protections at the state level?  Long story short, the bill failed to garner the votes needed to pass. Opponents of the bill claimed that it would be used to target religious business owners in the state and punish them for their beliefs.  Bullsh*t!  People in this nation are not punished for their beliefs, but for their discriminatory actions!

Senator Robert Clements suggested that LGBT people didn’t deserve protections because he wasn’t aware of any science suggesting they were “born at birth that way.”  By a grammar book, Mr. Clements!  And perhaps re-read that bible you claim to be spouting from.

This, as well as anything, epitomizes why I eschew religion … far too often it is used as justification to promote bigotry and hate.  Michael Pence, Donald Trump, the televangelists, and all those who would enforce the “Christian point of view” on the rest of us are bigots, plain and simple.  Believe as you wish, but don’t punish those of us who do not think as you do.


Take THAT, Fox ‘News’!

Three cheers for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) who today announced that they will bar Fox ‘News’ from sponsoring the 2020 Democratic Primary Debate.  The reason they cite is an article in The New Yorker titled “The Making of the Fox News White House”.  According to DNC Chairman Tom Perez …

“Recent reporting in the New Yorker on the inappropriate relationship between President Trump, his administration and Fox News has led me to conclude that the network is not in a position to host a fair and neutral debate for our candidates. Therefore, Fox News will not serve as a media partner for the 2020 Democratic primary debates.”

Among other things, the article reported allegations that late Fox News founder Roger Ailes passed along questions to Trump prior to a 2016 Republican primary debate and noted that former Fox executive Bill Shine is now the White House communications director. Several other former Fox News employees and contributors work in the Trump administration.

I have referred to Fox as state t.v. more than once, and while that may be somewhat of a stretch, it most certainly is not an arms-length relationship as it ought to be.

Trump is none too happy about the DNC decision, it would appear.

baby-trump“Democrats just blocked @FoxNews from holding a debate. Good, then I think I’ll do the same thing with the Fake News Networks and the Radical Left Democrats in the General Election debates!”

Such is not, contrary to what he may believe, within his power.  But wait!  There are executive orders!  Oh, but it’s going to be a fun twenty months.  Define ‘fun’ as ulcer-inducing in this case.  Shoot me now.


I end this morning’s snarkiness with a cartoon …Mitch-hunt

A Good Week For The Toon-ists!

There was so much fuel for the gristmill this week, and the cartoonists didn’t let us down.  In fact, there were so many fine ones that I may have to do two ‘toon-posts’ this week!

First there was the “summit” with Trump and Kim Jong-un which was, as we mostly knew it would be, a complete waste of time and money … our money.

toon-1toon-11toon-12Bruce Plante Cartoon: Trump goes to Vietnamtoon-14toon-15toon-16toon-17toon-18toon-19

Then there was Michael Cohen’s testimony before Congress

toon-2toon-21toon-22toon-23toon-24toon-25toon-26

And a few bits ‘n pieces

toon-misctoon-misc-2toon-misc-3

And now, let’s say ‘good-nite’ to Mr. Trump …

thumb-sucking-Trump

‘Bout Time For … Snarky Snippets!

It occurs to me that I haven’t done a Snarky Snippets post for nearly two weeks!  Whatever is wrong with me?  Well, let me make up for that oversight now, okay?


A “new direction” …

Earlier this week I wrote about Goodloe Sutton, the editor of the Democrat-Reporter, a newspaper based in Linden, Alabama, and his call for KKK night riders to ride again and for mass lynchings to “clean up” Washington.  Well, sometimes things work out for the best, and Mr. Sutton, who inherited the newspaper from his father in the 1980s, has stepped down from his position as editor and turned the job over to Elecia Dexter — an African-American woman from Chicago who had served as the paper’s front office clerk.

Ms. Dexter, a graduate of Eastern Illinois University, has worked for the paper only six weeks, and began making plans to leave when she saw the brutally offensive editorial written by Sutton.  Instead, she says she and Mr. Sutton had a long talk, and on Thursday he told Dexter she could carry on the legacy of his family, which has operated the Democrat-Reporter for decades, by taking the paper in a “new direction.”  Will wonders never cease?

On a related note, a couple of letters to the editor in response to Mr. Sutton’s editorial made my blood boil …goodloe-sutton-letters


A change of heart?

Ron Highland is a republican representative in the Kansas state legislature.  Highland is one of seven sponsors of Kansas House Bill 2320 which, in a nutshell, is a 9-page document  with more “Whereas” than I can count, that is as scathingly anti-LGBT as anything I have ever seen!  A few excerpts …

WHEREAS, Instead of having a cross, the ten commandments icon, or star and crescent, the LGBTQ secular humanist community has the gay pride rainbow colored flag to symbolize its faith-based worldview …

WHEREAS, The government’s endorsement of LGBTQ ideology has amounted to the greatest sham since the inception of American jurisprudence …

WHEREAS, There are no ex-blacks but there are thousands of ex-gays …

WHEREAS, All forms of parody marriage equally erode community standards of decency …

WHEREAS, Marriage between a man and a woman arose out of the nature of things, and marriage between a man and a woman is natural, neutral and non-controversial, unlike parody forms of marriage that do not involve a man and a woman …

Well, you get the idea, right?  It concludes by saying that only marriages between members of opposite sexes will be recognized.  Since the Supreme Court has ruled differently, the bill is against the law.  Simple.  States have certain rights, but in this case, federal law trumps state law (no pun intended).  The bill hasn’t a snowball’s chance of becoming law, thankfully, and the Kansas legislature wasted massive amounts of time writing a piece of garbage legislation.

But to the point … Mr. Highland helped draft the bill, but his daughter, Christel, was disappointed that her beloved dad would even participate in such an abomination.  Christel, according to her Facebook page, is “a proud member of Kansas City’s LGBTQ+ community, a Mother, a Partner to the love of my life …”  She wrote her dad this letter …christel-letter-e1550992350539.png

Wow, huh?  Shortly thereafter Mr. Highland asked that his name be removed from the bill, saying …

“The bill that I should not have signed on to cosponsor contained some hateful language which I do not condone, and it is against our Lord’s command to love our neighbors.”

While Mr. Highland should never have condoned, let alone co-sponsored the bill in the first place, you have to give him credit that he listened to his daughter, and that he admitted he was wrong.  Not many would have done so, I think.


Another billionaire donor gets a reward … ho hum.

So what’s new in Trumplandia?  Not much.  Oh yeah, another one of Trump’s billionaire friends got her early (or late, whichever way you choose to look at it) Christmas present in the form of a nomination for U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, replacing Nikki Haley who left last year.  Why am I not ranting, you ask?  Because it’s the same ol’ story … only the name and the face have changed.

Kelly-Knight-Craft

Kelly Knight Craft

Kelly Knight Craft is the most recent nominee for the position, after Heather Nauert withdrew because she had hired a nanny who hadn’t the proper working papers, and had failed to file timely tax papers.  But let’s take a quick look at Ms. Craft’s ‘qualifications’ for the ambassadorship …

Ms. Craft is married to Joe Craft, president and chief executive of coal producer Alliance Resource Partners. The couple are major Republican donors, having given about $1.5 million to GOP candidates in 2016, including $270,800 to Trump’s campaign committee or his joint fundraising committee with the Republican National Committee.

Joe Craft was also tight with former EPA head Scott Pruitt, to whom he provided certain ‘perks’ in exchange for special considerations for his coal company. (See June post titled Enough!!!!)  And … the Crafts also have been repeat, high-paying customers at Trump’s hotel in Washington.  In fact, the Crafts were listed as gold-level members of the Trump Card rewards program and have stayed at Trump’s hotel a minimum of 20 times.

So, there you have the qualifications for the position.  No, it isn’t necessary that she have an understanding of world politics and alliances, or some of the important issues that are dealt with at the United Nations, such as climate change. You will remember that it was the UN that sponsored the Paris Climate Accords that Trump so stupidly disavowed.  But, when asked for her thoughts on climate change, she had a great answer!

“I believe there are sciences on both sides that are accurate. Both sides have their own results from their studies, and I appreciate and respect both sides of the science.”

Oh yeah, she’ll be great … not a hint of a brain in her air-filled head!  Will the Senate confirm her?  I imagine so, for they have rubber-stamped almost all his nominees so far, and this one has high praise from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a fellow-Kentuckian.  Need I say more?


And with that, I have run out of steam, though not out of topics!  Fear not, I shall return with renewed vigor and more snark in the near future!

Amy Klobuchar: The 7 Issues Guide

Today I present the second of TokyoSand’s excellent posts introducing us to the democratic candidates for the office of president in 2020. Last time we met Senator Kamala Harris who is one of 4 or 5 on my own shortlist, and this week we are introduced to Senator Amy Klobuchar, another on my short list. This is an excellent series providing valuable information about the candidates all in one place, so I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read it. Thank you again, TokyoSand, for this post and permission to share it!

Political⚡Charge

Election 2018 Senate Klobuchar Amy Klobuchar (AP Photo/Hannah Foslien)

The Democrats have a big field of candidates running for President in 2020. To briefly use a sports analogy, I see our candidates as the starting players on the Blue team, each bringing their own unique strengths to the table in a bid to take our country in a very different direction than the one we’re on today.

But as we well know from 2016, the media (and especially social media) gets fixated on non-substantial issues that take up all the oxygen. Plus, they don’t give the candidates the same treatment or the same amount of airtime.

In order to help voters get to know the Democratic candidates, I’ve enlisted the help of a team of terrific volunteers who have helped gather quotes and information about what the candidates have said or done in regards to the 7 issues that midterm voters identified as the…

View original post 2,123 more words

Two Jaw-Dropping Moments …

More than once I have said that it feels as if we are moving backward to a time of extreme bigotry and racism, to a time of segregated schools, a time of ‘whites only’ bathrooms and drinking fountains.  Two stories in yesterday’s news confirmed my worst fears.


A PEW research study was released yesterday that caused my jaw to drop.  The survey found that 34% of Americans … more than a third … think it is okay to wear blackface as a part of a costume all, or at least sometimes.  I am stunned at the ignorance, the utter crudity of these people!  Unthinking louts!  Morons!  The demographics are interesting … take a look …Pew-blackface-surveyNotice especially the differences between Republicans and Democrats — and the republicans wonder why the GOP has become known as the party of racists?  The survey was conducted January 22nd to February 5th, mostly before the revelation of Virginia Governor Northam in blackface in his med school yearbook.

The age breakdown is also interesting, for it seems that people ages 18-29 are least likely to say it’s okay.  But to me, the educational breakdown is perhaps the most relevant.  It seems that common sense, compassion, cultural awareness increase with higher levels of education.  Take a look …Pew-blackface-survey-2.pngI wonder, if this survey had been taken three years ago, when we had an African-American president, a man of conscience and compassion, and before the ‘man’ in the Oval Office gave off racist vibes, would the results have been the same?  For the record, it isn’t really a matter of opinion, but a matter of what’s right and what’s wrong.  Wearing blackface is a form of mockery, a form of denigration, and it is NEVER acceptable.  Period.  Not for a costume party, not for a small gathering of close friends, and not for a med school yearbook picture.  NEVER.Only one race


The second jaw dropper came with this headline …

West Virginia lawmaker compares LGBTQ community to the KKK

Say WHAT???  Ai ching … chihuahua!!!

In recent months, cities and municipalities in West Virginia have begun passing ordinances protecting the LGBT community from discrimination.  Enter West Virginia state Delegate Eric Porterfield, not surprisingly a republican, who argued in favour of a state-level bill that would make such local ordinances against state law.  The very notion that he is against equal rights for LGBT people is bad enough, but his rhetoric …

Eric-Porterfield“The LGBTQ is a modern-day version of the Ku Klux Klan, without wearing hoods with their antics of hate. The LGBT is the most socialist group in this country. They do not protect gays. There are many gays they persecute if they do not line up with their social ideology. I am terrified of these people. They represent a socialist activist agenda. They are opponents of freedom.”

‘Opponents of freedom’.  You, Mr. Porterfield, are a grade-A jackass!  Mr. Porterfield is blind, having lost the sight in both eyes as a result of an altercation in 2006.  Now, I just wonder how he would like it if somebody referred to blind people as being just like the KKK?

This is not his first time being a bully, as you might expect.  In 2016, he saw a Facebook post by his wife’s gynecologist arguing in support of a woman’s right to choose, right to abortion.  He told her in a Facebook message that, if she didn’t change to an anti-abortion position, he’d organize an economic boycott of her practice.

The situation escalated to the point of him filming a Facebook video calling for the boycott, and the doctor obtaining a protective service order from Magistrate Sandra Dorsey against Porterfield in court. Mercer County sheriff’s deputies then confiscated guns owned by Porterfield and his wife, Jessica.  (Wouldn’t you just know they owned guns?)

And then in 2018, a bill was up before the West Virginia Legislature to ban forced conversion therapy on minors.  The bill failed, but Porterfield was livid that the bill was even introduced, calling the bill bigoted and discriminatory.

This man is a prime example of what is wrong not only in our government, but in our society today.  If you don’t fit into the mold … the white, Christian, straight, and preferably male mold … then you are second-class and deserve whatever those ‘exemplary’ white citizens decide you deserve. lgbt flag


One cannot blame Donald Trump exclusively for creating the attitudes of hate and bigotry we are seeing in ever-increasing numbers today, but we can blame him for condoning the behaviours of hate groups, and thus making these vermin believe that it is ‘okay’ to be racist, to be homophobic, xenophobic and misogynistic.  Donald Trump said he would get rid of ‘political correctness’.  Being politically correct is nothing more nor less than being polite, being kind, treating others fairly.  And yet, those are things that we are losing in this nation.  We are losing them because the ‘man’ at the helm of this ship says that white and Christian and straight are superior to all else.  He is wrong.  He is dead wrong.

The Supreme Court Has Lost Its Way …

The Supreme Court, the branch of the federal government that is supposed to be most independent, that is intended to hold the executive and legislative branches accountable, has made two major decisions today that indicate they have fallen and landed squarely in the camp of Donald Trump.  I am beyond disappointed … I am incensed, and I see our rights as citizens of this plutocracy going down the drain. supreme court justices


Supreme Court revives Trump’s transgender military ban

The Supreme Court on Tuesday allowed the Trump administration to go ahead with its plan to restrict military service by transgender people while court challenges continue.  The court split 5-4 in allowing the plan to take effect, with the court’s five conservatives greenlighting it and its four liberal members saying they would not have.

Until a few years ago service members could be discharged from the military for being transgender. That changed under President Barack Obama. The military announced in 2016 that transgender individuals already serving in the military would be allowed to serve openly. And the military set July 1, 2017 as the date when transgender individuals would be allowed to enlist.

Trump, of course, had to undo that, for two reasons:  a) it was a decision made during the Obama administration, and Trump has a goal to undo every single thing Obama did, and b) because Donald Trump and his supporters are homophobic bigots.  There is no viable reason to ban transgender people from the military, and this decision does not reflect the feelings of the majority in this nation!

Supreme Court returns to gun rights for 1st time in 9 years

The Supreme Court said Tuesday it will take up its first gun rights case in nine years, a challenge to New York City’s prohibition on carrying a licensed, locked and unloaded handgun outside the city limits.  The court’s decision to hear the appeal filed by three New York residents and New York’s National Rifle Association affiliate could signal a revived interest in gun rights by a more conservative court. The case won’t be argued until October.

New York’s ordinance allows people licensed to have handguns to carry them outside the home to gun ranges in the city. The guns must be locked and unloaded.  The city residents who filed suit want to practice shooting at target ranges outside the city or take their guns to second homes elsewhere in New York state.  The city’s top lawyer, Zachary Carter, urged the court to reject the case, arguing that the restrictions allowed New York police to reduce the number of guns carried in public.

Just about the last … the very last … thing we need in this country is an expansion of 2nd Amendment ‘rights’!  The NRA has already nearly ensured that gun deaths in the U.S. will continue to be the highest per capita on the globe.  What do we want … are we shooting for some sort of record here … “let’s see if we can top last year’s gun deaths”?


Both of these issues are beyond merely concerning on their own merit, but the even greater concern is the trend that is appearing.  It is a trend we all feared when first, Neil Gorsuch, then Brett Kavanaugh were seated on the Supreme Court.  It is deeply disturbing that the Supreme Court appears to be making decisions strictly along partisan lines rather than considering issues on Constitutional merit.  The real concern, however, lies on the path ahead.  There are two prior Supreme Court rulings that ultra-conservative republicans, evangelicals, Trump’s base, want to see overturned:  Roe v Wade, and Obergefell v Hodges.  The first guarantees a woman the right to make decisions about her own body, her own life.  The second guarantees same-sex couples the right to marry.  Both were long, hard-fought battles and are, in short, about human rights … civil rights.

In addition to those, it is highly likely that the Supreme Court will soon be asked to hear cases involving gerrymandering and voter disenfranchisement.  Our constitutional rights … all of them … may be in jeopardy if the Court cannot manage to overcome it’s partisanship.  After Kavanaugh’s contentious confirmation, Chief Justice John Roberts, in an effort to quell growing concerns of partisanship on the Court, made the following statement:

“… We do not sit on opposite sides of an aisle, we do not caucus in separate rooms, we do not serve one party or one interest. We serve one nation. And I want to assure all of you that we will continue to do that to the best of our abilities, whether times are calm or contentious.”

Prove that to us, please, Chief Justice.

The Ultimate Hypocrisy …

Did you ever wonder what Mike Pence’s wife, Karen, does for a living?  Well … ‘for a living’ is likely a misnomer, for I’m fairly certain that Mikey brings home enough to pay the bills … but Karen is, indeed, gainfully employed.  She is a teacher.  An art teacher.  At a school.  A school that bars LGBT students … and teachers.

The school is Immanuel Christian School in Springfield, Virginia, where Ms. Pence previously taught from 2001 to 2013.  The school does not allow gay students and requires employees to affirm that marriage should only be between a man and a woman, despite the 2015 Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v Hodges. The school’s employment application equires candidates to describe their faith in Jesus Christ, affirm that they are a born-again Christian and vow to adhere to specific standards in their personal and professional lives.  Welcome to 1692, the year the Salem witch trials began.  Welcome to the Dark Ages!  Is it not the ultimate hypocrisy that the wife of a man who has sworn to uphold the Constitution is so blatantly in defiance of the values espoused in that document?

Item #8 on the employment application requires that an applicant initial the following statement:

“I understand that the term ‘marriage’ has only one meaning; the uniting of one man and one woman,” it reads, adding that certain “moral misconduct” would be disqualifying, such as “heterosexual activity outside of marriage (e.g., premarital sex, cohabitation, extramarital sex), homosexual or lesbian sexual activity, polygamy, transgender identity, any other violation of the unique roles of male and female.”

Karen Pence signed her initials, agreeing to the above statement.  Karen Pence, the wife of the man who is likely to, through order of succession, become the next President of the United States.  Think about that one for a minute.

Unlike public schools, private schools can require students and employees to follow specific religious beliefs and adhere to certain behavior in their private lives. They are not restricted from teaching from religious texts in class and are not subject to employment discrimination laws.

As I have stated on numerous occasions, I am not against any religion per se, although I do not ascribe to any religion myself.  I believe in the doctrine of “live and let live”, and as long as people do not attempt to enforce their own beliefs on others, I do not care what religion people choose to follow.  But this … is an abomination.  If parents wish to send their children to a parochial school, as long as they are willing to fully fund their child’s education with no assistance from taxpayer money, I have no problem with that.  However … when said religious schools are exempt from federal employment discrimination laws, then yes, I have a problem … a BIG problem.  When they exclude children who do not fit into the narrow confines of their own moral views, then yes … I have a problem.

For those who might not understand my objection, let’s turn the tables just a bit.  Let’s say I want to start up a school for African-American LGBT students and I refuse to hire any white Christians, simply on the basis that a) they are Caucasian, and b) they are Christian.  How long do you think before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) shuts my school down?  Yep … less than a day after the first complaint. eeoc-1Discrimination, whether it is in employment, education or housing is wrong.  Discrimination against a specific race, age, disability, national origin, religion, gender, or gender identity is wrong.  Such discrimination is against the law.  Period.  And here’s a really terrifying thought …

“It is a place that partners with families, always looking far into the future, preparing a generation of young people who will someday take our place as parents, teachers and leaders.” 

Mike Pence, Karen Pence and the Immanuel Christian School need to get over their feelings of superiority and come into the real world where people are different, yet can live together in a world of peace, mutual respect, compassion, and love.  Isn’t that, after all, part of the Christian dogma?  Or has it changed?

A side note:  Mike Pence’s daughter, Charlotte, wrote a book about a bunny … or more specifically, a day in the life of the Vice President as seen through the eyes of her bunny, Marlon Bundo.  Last spring, late-night comedian John Oliver re-wrote the book just a bit, making old Bundo gay, hooking him up with another boy bunny, and sending the two on a quest to get hitched.

Oliver’s book was an instant success, and even Charlotte Pence bought a copy, saying …

“I have bought his book. It doesn’t have to be divisive. I think that everybody can come together over Marlon.”

And the real kicker … the Trevor Project—a nonprofit dedicated to suicide prevention among LGBTQ youth, which split the proceeds from Oliver’s book with an AIDS nonprofit—announced that it had shipped 100 copies of the thing to Immanuel Christian School!  Along with the books, they included a note …

“Policies and rhetoric that exclude or reject LGBTQ youth can lead to increased risk for suicide and depression, and it’s our organization’s mission to end suicide among LGBTQ young people.  With your help, we hope you will change your school’s student and employee policies to accept LGBTQ students and employees.”lgbt flag

 

On The Rights Of People …

Two things have my angst on edge tonight, both involving humanitarian rights.


From The Guardian, Friday 04 January 2019 …

US halts cooperation with UN on potential human rights violations

The Trump administration has stopped cooperating with UN investigators over potential human rights violations occurring inside America, in a move that delivers a major blow to vulnerable US communities and sends a dangerous signal to authoritarian regimes around the world.

Quietly and unnoticed, the state department has ceased to respond to official complaints from UN special rapporteurs, the network of independent experts who act as global watchdogs on fundamental issues such as poverty, migration, freedom of expression and justice. There has been no response to any such formal query since 7 May 2018, with at least 13 requests going unanswered.

Jamil Dakwar, director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s human rights program, said the shift gave the impression the US was no longer serious about honoring its own human rights obligations. The ripple effect around the world would be dire.

Externally, Trump has forged an increasingly unilateral path on foreign policy: in June he shocked the world by pulling the US out of the UN human rights council, complaining it was a “cesspool of political bias”, and he has caused further consternation by siding with the Saudi crown prince, Mohammed bin Salman, despite evidence linking Prince Mohammed to the murder of the Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

Domestically, Trump has run roughshod over the constitutional rights of asylum seekers at the US border, attempted to deny the legal existence of transgender people and introduced tax cuts that have greatly exacerbated income inequality in a country in which 40 million people live in poverty, among many other controversies.

In any democratic form of government, oversight is a key component to ensure that corruption does no run rampant and that the rights of the people are not being trampled.  One of the functions of the United Nations is to provide such oversight, to ensure that the rights of the people are being honoured and protected by the government.  In the case of the U.S. under Donald Trump, those rights are being neither honoured nor protected, and now one of the main overseers has been disabled.  We have literally been hung out to dry.  Which leads to my second source of angst …

From The Washington Post, 03 January 2019

Trump administration considers rollback of anti-discrimination rules

The Trump administration is considering a far-reaching rollback of civil rights law that would dilute federal rules against discrimination in education, housing and other aspects of American life, people familiar with the discussions said.

A recent internal Justice Department memo directed senior civil rights officials to examine how decades-old “disparate impact” regulations might be changed or removed in their areas of expertise, and what the impact might be, according to people familiar with the matter. Similar action is being considered at the Education Department and is underway at the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

In the first year of Trump’s tenure, 18 civil rights prior rulings were cancelled, either by agencies within the administration, or by executive order.  Some of these rulings pertained to women’s rights, some protected minorities from discrimination in the areas of law enforcement, education, housing and employment.  Until now, the rulings were reversals or rollbacks of rulings by the Obama administration, in keeping with Trump’s master plan to eradicate every good thing that Obama had done.  But now, with the plan to rollback disparate impact regulations, the nation is stepping back even further to Title VI of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.


It seems to me that the main role of any legitimate government, certainly one that claims to stand on democratic principles, is to protect the rights of its citizens.  Our government seems to have forgotten their role, abandoned the principles to which the framers of the Constitution adhered.  For a period of nearly two hundred years, this nation mostly progressed.  Oh sure, we made mistakes, took a few steps backward from time to time, but overall, we came a long way in human rights … civil rights.  But in just the past two years, we have slid back in time, back to a time when African-Americans were considered second-class citizens, when homosexuality was taboo, women were subjugated by men.

Where is this nation headed?  Right now, we have a tin-pot dictator who has made the U.S. the source of derision throughout the Western world.  Worse, our government is eroding the freedoms, the basic human rights, of large groups of people, giving more consideration to corporations that are largely owned by disgustingly wealthy people, than to the majority of people who pay taxes and work hard to take care of their families.  Our rights are being violated and it’s time for it to stop.  Human rights, civil rights … these don’t even require thought, or at least shouldn’t require thought in this, the 21st century!  We fought a Civil War to end slavery, we’ve come through the women’s rights movements, the Civil Rights era, we’ve seen people die standing up for the rights of Native Americans, African-Americans and others.  Do we really need to go backward and have to start all over???  I surely hope not.

ACA Is NOT Unconstitutional!!!

I would really like to know just how much Donald Trump paid to U.S. District Judge Reed O’Connor of Texas.  Or perhaps it wasn’t money, but the promise of a seat on the U.S. Supreme Court.  Whatever the enticement, Judge Reed O’Connor has just thrown the citizens of the United States under the proverbial bus.  What, you ask, did he do?  Last night, Judge O’Connor ruled that ACA in its totality is unconstitutional.  Not just part of ACA … the entire bloomin’ Affordable Care Act!Judge O'ConnorJudge O’Connor isn’t new to controversial rulings.  Let’s take a look at just a few he’s made in the past decade …

  • Halted implementation of ACA Section 1557 that prohibited discrimination against transgender people by federally funded health programs. Why?  Because the judge felt it violated religious rights under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act. – December 2016
  • Ruled against the Title IX law that required that schools receiving federal funding not discriminate against students on the basis of sex or gender identification – October 2016
  • Ruled that the Indian Child Welfare Act was unconstitutional. The act halted the forcible removal of as many as 25% – 30% of Native American children from their homes for no reason other than their heritage, and then being put up for adoption, placed in non-Indian homes with a deliberate absence of American Indian cultures – October 2018

So, we have here a judge in the southern state of Texas who is a proven bigot and racist, and he has decided that the entirety of ACA, the program that was intended to ensure that every man, woman and child in the U.S. would have at least basic healthcare insurance, goes against the Constitution.  And Trump’s own ‘surprised’ reaction?

“Wow, but not surprisingly, ObamaCare was just ruled UNCONSTITUTIONAL by a highly respected judge in Texas. Great news for America!”

No, you fat, pimple-faced, fake-hair jerk!  It is the worst possible news for America!  Only wait … that’s right, you don’t give a damn about America, do you, for your allegiance lies elsewhere … in Russia … in Saudi Arabia.

And later …

“As I predicted all along, Obamacare has been struck down as an UNCONSTITUTIONAL disaster! Now Congress must pass a STRONG law that provides GREAT healthcare and protects pre-existing conditions.”

Yeah, sure, right … and I believe that the Easter Bunny lays chocolate eggs, too …

Judge O’Connor has been sitting on the case that prompted his ruling for several months now, but it was decided to wait until the end of the open enrollment period and, more importantly, after the mid-term elections, where health care was a major deciding factor for many voters.  Clever, aren’t these damn republicans?

The judge’s ruling will no doubt be appealed all the way up the line until finally it lands on the docket of the U.S. Supreme Court, so for the time being, nothing changes.  What happens when it reaches the Supreme Court?  Good question.  Remember how just this week, Kavanaugh sided with liberal and moderate judges in a refusal to hear a case that could have ended in defunding Planned Parenthood?  People were scratching their heads, wondering if perhaps Kavanaugh was a decent guy after all.  I said he was biding his time, picking his battles.  What do you want to bet this is one of those battles he was saving up for?

The basic difference in ideologies between democrats and republicans boils down to whether the government’s focus should be on people or industry.  Prior to ACA, health insurance was so expensive that a large portion of Americans took their chances without insurance.  ACA sought to remedy that, sought to ensure that no child would have to die because his parents could not afford to take him to the doctor.  But the republicans believed that their tax dollars should not be wasted on the lives of those of us they view as second-class citizens because we haven’t had the same opportunities for enrichment they have had.

And now a bigoted judge in Texas has decided all by himself that healthcare should only be accessible to those who earn over a certain amount of money.  ACA is not unconstitutional.  ACA is about helping people live their lives.  Nowhere in the Constitution does it state that people should not be allowed to live if they are poor.  Unlike Donald Trump, I have actually read the Constitution … many times.  We The People are sick and tired of having to fight battle after battle to be treated with a bit of respect in our own country, the country that our hard-earned tax dollars support.  We are paying a high price for the follies of the current administration and it is past time for people to realize it.

As for Judge Reed O’Connor … I’m betting that next time Trump has an opportunity to nominate a Supreme Court justice, O’Connor’s name will be on the short list.